Ask anyone in India, which is your dream destination, and for the sure, the majority will say road trip to Leh Ladakh and only a few will answer Lahaul Spiti. A year back; the same notation was true for us too. So, we did both a 13-day road trip to Leh Ladakh and a 10 day Lahaul Spiti road trip. Honestly, both the God lands left us speechless and Lahaul Spiti valley became our favorite. It is raw, lesser commercialized, lesser densely populated, and more enigmatic than Ladakh – land of high passes; where only wind and water play at their best to carve and decorate the valley.
The word “Spiti” means middle land between India and Tibet. So, Spiti Valley is the extension of mesmerizing landscapes of Tibet with challenging terrains and adventurous hairpin bend roads everywhere. The place has calming vibes and also can see the perfect combination of Hindu and Buddhist culture. A true tourist or traveler, photographer, and adventurist cannot delight his eyes and soul just by traveling through this mystical land once. Indeed, he will long for more and start planning his next visit. Take a second visit and still, you will feel the valley is new and it will be exactly like a first visit.
The route for Lahaul Spiti Road trip
There are two routes to reach Spiti Valley. One can enter from Shimla and exit from Old Manali or vice versa. We did a complete circuit, starting our journey from Manali and taking an exit at Shimla.
Total time to reach Kaza in Spiti Valley from Delhi
The total time to reach Kaza in Spiti Valley from Delhi 17 -18 hrs. We advise you to break this journey into 3 days and halt at first Chandigarh or Mandi and if not here in-between, then Manali.
Condition of Lahaul Spiti Roads
Just forget the highways after Manali. There are bumpy and mud roads with potholes all around, most of the journey is like off-roading. At the passes ice will be melting down so additionally the roads will be wet too. Expect huge traffic jams from mid-July to August as there is apple crop transportation too.
Best time to take Lahaul Spiti Road Trip
The best time to do Lahaul Spiti road trip circuit starting from Manali and exiting at Shimla is between June-September. During this period both Rohtang Pass (opens in May) for which you need Rohtang Pass Permit and Kunzum Pass (opens in June) get functional. Whereas the other route via Shimla till Kaza is open throughout the year. Traveling to Spiti Valley in winters to the valley is extremely adventurous but surely tough too.
Itinerary for Lahaul Spiti Road trip
While taking the Spiti Valley road trip, vistas change at every turn. If you think to blink your eyes or relax for a while, you will surely miss something worthy. So be awake during the whole journey to get soaked in the adventure.
Day 1 (Delhi – Chandigarh or Delhi – Mandi / Manali)
Leave early morning from Delhi to reach Chandigarh/ Mandi or Manali, according to your driving skills and capacity. From Delhi, Chandigarh can be reached in just 5 hrs and further till Manali it will take another 8-9 hrs, so totally journey coming to 13- 14 hrs. The terrain is plain till Mandi and changes after that. From here, the route becomes worth admiring. After reaching Manali rest in your hotel room, and walk to old Manali to enjoy scrumptious dinner.
We usually start our drive from Delhi in the late evening and reach Manali by next morning. After resting for some time, we go to Manali DC office to take the permits for next day.
Attractions on the way: Anandpur Sahib Gurdwara and Rewalsar Lake in Mandi district.
Must try: Do try Siddu and famous Bedawi Chapati / Puri in Mandi.
Day 2 (Manali to Chandratal Lake)
Leave around 7:00 am from Manali for Chandratal Lake. The Lake of Moon lays just 140 km from Manali but it takes almost 7-8 hrs to reach the place. The road to Chandratal Lake has only dirt and stones and no sign of tartar anywhere. On the way, you get to see waterfalls and the so-called Pagal Nallas (unexpected water comes through these). So, be really cautious.
There are several tents nearby the lake for accommodation. We stayed with Tenzin at Tenzin camps which lays almost 3 km from the moon lake. From here the lake can be reached by trekking or driving till one point.
Attraction: Rohtang Pass, also known as the pass of dead corposes and Chandratal Lake
Must Try: Chandra Dhabha at Batal run by a couple Chacha Chachi
Day 3 (Chandratal – Kaza)
After having breakfast and good tea, leave for Kaza which lies almost 100 km. Kaza is the headquarters of Spiti Valley. Along the way, you will cross Kunzum pass, located at 15,600 feet and village Losar.
Attractions: Kunzum Pass on the way, Key Monastery in Kaza, Sakya Tangyud Monastery, and the surrounding villages.
Must Try: Hotel Deyzor for its awesome food and worthy location
Day 4 (Kaza)
Stay at Kaza and explore the surrounding villages like Kibber, Tashigong, Langza for fossils, Gette and Kaumik / Komic village. Also plan to visit the Pin Valley National park, which comes under protected area for wildlife.
Day 5 (Kaza – Tabo)
Start your day early from Kaza and head towards the green village Dhankar (34km) known for one of the oldest monasteries and palace on the hilltop. From there 34 km ahead lays the beautiful village Tabo. Roads are both good and bad and with sightseeing, you will reach by evening.
Attractions: Dhankar Village, Dhankar Monastery, Dhankar Lake, Dhankar Palace, old and new Tabo monastery, Tabo caves, Tabo Helipad.
Must-Try: Stay at Tabo Monastery. They have mud lining rooms that are super cozy and dirt cheap. You can spend one night here in just Rs 500/-.
Day 6 (Tabo – Kalpa via Village Gue, Nako & Rekong Peo)
This day is going to be long as you will be covering 3 -4 attractions on the way before reaching Kalpa. The village Gue lays 8 -10 km inside from village Sumdo (24 km from Tabo) and is known for the sitting 500 years old mummy.
The Village Nako lies 33 km ahead from Sumdo. It is the highest village in the Hangrang Valley and here the bumpy road ends and the perfect tarred road starts. Do read the complete post a walk to the Nako village, to know more.
Kalpa & Rekong Peo lies 103 km from village Nako, which is almost a journey of 3-4 hrs. There is nothing much in Rekong Peo but for sure you will be mesmerized by the views of Kinner Kailash and apple orchards in Kalpa.
Attractions: Mummy at village Gue, Nako monastery, Nako Lake, Chango Gompa, Kinner Kailash from Kalpa, Suicide point, Narayan Nagini Temple, Kalpa Monastery, Sapni fort, and Kamru fort.
Must try: Stay with Himachal tourism guest house at Kalpa, for the best views and food.
Day 7 (Kalpa – Sangla)
After watching the first ray of sunrise at Kinner Kailash and having filling breakfast, leave to check the attractions of Kalpa. By afternoon leave for Sangla, which lays 40 km ahead of Kalpa. Check into your hotel and get lost in the evening beauty of Sangla Valley, Kinnaur. Listen to birds chirping and the flowing Baspa River along.
Attractions: Kinner Kailash, Suicide point, Narayan Nagini Temple, Kalpa Monastery, Sapni fort.
Must-Try: Tents at Kinner Camps, Sangla. We really enjoy staying with them because of their extraordinary hospitality and comfort.
Day 8 (Sangla – Chitkul- Sangla)
The next day, after breakfast drive 22 km from Sangla to the village Chitkul. It is the last Indian village and the first glimpse of it is enough to leave you transfixed and speechless. On one side you can see the snow-capped arid mountains while on the other side there is a lush green valley with the Baspa River flowing in between.
Attractions: Chitkul, Baspa River, Sangla meadows, 1000 years old Kamru fort, Bering Nag Temple, & Sangla Monastery.
Must try: Evening long walks and apple orchards
Day 9 (Sangla – Shimla)
From Sangla, it is time to cover the last part of the circuit and the last day in hills too. Start early around 7:30- 8:00 am to cover 225 km. Roads are perfectly tarred and in excellent condition. If you have an extra day, do cover Sarahan & Narkanda on the way.
At Sarahan, check Bhimkali Temple and Bird sanctuary whereas in Narkanda visit Hatu Peak, Hatu temple and Jubbar Lake.
Attractions: Karcham Wangtoo Dam & cut out mountains forming ceilings on the highway near Rampur, Kufri.
Must Try: Buy red and golden farm fresh apples and plums.
Day 10 (Shimla – Delhi)
The day 10th is going to be the toughest day as it is the end of a memorable trip. But cherish up as there are so many memories to take back home and plan the next journey. Roads are in excellent condition and you will be covering 345 km in almost 8-9 hrs.
Attractions: Himalayan Expressway, Timber trail resort at Kalka.
Must try: Good Punjabi food on the Chandigarh- Delhi highway.
Points to Remember before taking Lahaul Spiti road trip
- The Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass are high altitude passes, so check the weather forecast with locals before heading out.
- In the mid-July – August, there are spells of rains in the Lahaul Spiti Valley, although being a rain shadow region. So, the drive can be tough as well as risky.
- Always keep a buffer for a day while taking the Lahaul Spiti road trip.
- Get your vehicle properly inspected before hitting for a 1600 km road trip.
- Carry proper car toolkit along.
- Avoid driving at night as the roads are narrow and valleys are deep. Moreover, the whole valley is serene and worth admiring during the day.
- Certain places like Rohtang Pass in the Lahaul Spiti Valley can be visited only with permits, so get those arranged timely. The Permit can be taken online or by visiting the DC office in Manali.
- Carry the additional photostat copies of a permit with you, during the trip.
- There is the last and highest fuel station at Kaza after Manali. The next can be found in Rekong Peo and then in Sangla.
- ATM facilities are available in Sangla, Rekong Peo, Kaza, Manali & Shimla
- Take time to acclimatize and don’t rush in the valley.
- Basic Medical facilities are available at Sangla, Rekong Peo, and Kaza. Advance medical facilities can be availed only in Shimla and Manali.
- Don’t expect luxurious accommodation and food in the valley, especially during winters.
- The locals are really nice and ready to help. Do respect their traditions and cultures.
- Remember to keep the valley clean and don’t litter around. Practice responsible tourism.
Trip Expert 2017 Awards
We have compiled this post for the nomination in “Travel Expert Awards -2017”.